Moonlight Beach

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Moonlight State Beach
Looking south along Moonlight State Beach on a day where there is marine layer present
Location San Diego County, California
Nearest city Encinitas
Coordinates 33°2′51″N 117°17′51″W / 33.04750°N 117.29750°W / 33.04750; -117.29750Coordinates: 33°2′51″N 117°17′51″W / 33.04750°N 117.29750°W / 33.04750; -117.29750
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation
Signboard at entrance to beach
View looking south along beach
View looking north-west across beach from behind one of the two lifeguard stations

Moonlight State Beach is a state beach in Encinitas, California. Located at the terminus of Encinitas Boulevard, it has been called the center of recreation and social life in the town.[1] It is appropriate for both children's and adults' recreation.[2] It is popular with both tourists and residents, and it is one of the most visited beaches in Encinitas.[3] This sand beach is used for surfing, swimming, surf fishing, beach volleyball, and bonfires.[4]


Early female settlers washed clothing in nearby Cottonwood Creek, then provided picnics for their families while the laundry dried.[3] Land prospector J. S. Pitcher, who owned much of Encinitas, built a bathhouse, playground, boardwalk, dance hall, and several picnic areas.[1] Between 1915 and 1925, Moonlight Beach began to attract North County residents for social outings.[1] Popular events included horse races.[5] At low tide one could drive a Model T north on the beach all the way to Oceanside.[1]


“Moonlight Beach is not a great longboard wave anymore. It's changed and it's pretty much a shortboard wave now. It really breaks hard and fast now. It wasn't like that. It was a fun beach break.” - Linda Benson, five-time women's world surfing champion. Benson learned to surf at Moonlight Beach in the late 1950s.[1]


Since the early 1950s, two-man volleyball has been played at Moonlight Beach. Several of the players from the Pro Tour practice their game at Moonlight. Originally there was only one court in the middle of the beach, but currently there are three courts at the north end of the beach. Every year since 1964 in the month of October, a Mixed Doubles Volleyball Tournament is held here; many of the top beach players in the world participate.

Water quality[edit]

Because of the presence of harmful bacteria in dry-season urban run-off into Cottonwood Creek, a small creek that runs into the ocean at Moonlight Beach, water quality has been an issue at Moonlight Beach in the past. For example, in 2002, the beach earned a "D" grade from Heal the Bay, a Santa Monica based nonprofit organization which monitors water quality along the California coast.[6] Water quality in Cottonwood Creek has however improved in recent years because of UV treatment in the urban run-off treatment facility on B Street at 2nd Street; the beach earned five As and one B from Heal the Bay from April 2005 through March 2007.


The beach is open for use all day except between 2 am and 4 am. There is a parking lot above the beach which is open from 5 am to 10 pm. No dogs, alcohol, or glass are allowed on the beach. The lifeguard towers are open from 10 am to 6 pm during the summer months. Facilities at the beach include handicapped access, a picnic area, numerous restrooms, outdoor showers, a telephone, concession stand daily (Easter through Thanksgiving), surfboard and boogie board rental, fire rings, playground equipment, and volleyball courts. A tennis court is available nearby in Cottonwood Creek park, a small nature reserve.

Annual Events[edit]

During Mid summer, Moonlight Beach plays host to Switchfoot's Bro-Am, a charity event, surf contest and massive beach party hosted by legendary band Switchfoot and sponsored by Hurley. Two days (usually a Friday and Saturday) Filled with music, charity, and surfing on this pristine beach where Switchfoot's lead duo, the Foreman brothers, learned to surf.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Irons 2007, online article
  2. ^ Mellin & Onstott 2007, 250
  3. ^ a b Holtzclaw & Welch 2006, 119
  4. ^ Osborne Jr. 2003, 20
  5. ^ Hartley 1999, 137
  6. ^ Puterbaugh & Bisbort 2007, 83


  • Annual Report Cards. 17th Annual Beach Report Card for 2006 - 2007 & 16th Annual Beach Report Card for 2005 - 2006. (May 23, 2007 & May 24, 2006). Accessed April 24, 2008.
  • Beaches in Encinitas. Parks and Recreation. 2005. Accessed April 30, 2008.
  • Hartley, Mac. Encinitas – History & Heritage. The Donning Company / Publishers, Virginia Beach VA. 1999.
  • Holzclaw, Kenneth & Welch Diane. Images of America - Encinitas. Arcadia Publishing, Charleston SC. 2006.
  • Irons, Destiny. (September 17, 2007). Moonlight Beach – The Changing Tide and Times. Accessed March 3, 2008.
  • Mellin, Maribeth & Onstott, Jane. Insiders Guide – San Diego – Fifth Edition. Morris Book Publishing, LLC. 2007.
  • Osborne Jr., John. The California Coast – A Traveler’s Companion – Second Edition. The Countrymen Press, Woodstock VT. 2003.
  • Puterbaugh, Parke & Bisbort, Alan. California Beaches – The Best Places to Swim, Play, Eat, and Stay on the Coast – Third Edition. Avalon Travel Publishing, Emeryville CA. 2003.

External links[edit]